Israeli High Court issues temporary decision to halt the transfer of Palestinian detainees

On Friday evening, 24 October 2003, the Israeli High Court issued a temporary decision stopping the transfer of Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli High Court accepted an appeal submitted by PCHR and Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights (24 October 2003) on behalf of 2 of the 5 detainees and ordered the Israeli prosecution to provide a written response to the appeal against the decision taken by the Israeli Military Appeal Committee. The High Court ordered to halt the transfer and process of “assigned residence” pending a final decision on the case.   

On 23 October 2003, the Israeli Military Appeals Committee approved a military order to transfer and “assign residence,” in respect of the following detainees: Lu’ai Mohammed Daoud; Munther Mohammed al-Ja’ba; Ghanem Tawfiq Salama; Taha Ramadan Dwaik; and Kamal Mohammed Edris.

This was in addition to a similar military order of 14 October 2003, which ordered the transfer of 13 other Palestinians from the West Bank.

The military order declared that the 18 Palestinians would be transported from the West Bank and “assigned residence” in the Gaza Strip for an indeterminate period.  As a result, the order effectively amounts to a transfer of the Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.  Each of the 18 has been held without charge in Israeli “administrative detention” for suspicions of involvement in attacks against Israeli targets.  However, no evidence of such accusations has been disclosed during the appeal procedures. 

PCHR repeats its condemnation of the use of “assigned residence” orders by the Israeli military.  PCHR considers that these “assigned residence” orders constitute unlawful transfers within the meaning of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949.  The unlawful transfer of a protected person also constitutes a grave breach of the Convention (article 147), and a war crime, as further clarified in article 85 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

PCHR thus calls upon the Israeli military to immediately rescind these “assigned residence” orders and halt all other grave breaches of international humanitarian law.  PCHR further repeats its call to the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate steps to intervene to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people.